MariaOrtega, 15, and her son, Miguel, decorate sugar cookies on Feb. 12 at a meetingfor teenage parents participating in the Oklahoma Parents As Teachers Program.In Tahlequah, Okla. (Photo by Christina Good Voice)

Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah Schools offer new Head Start

02/25/2010 07:07 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah Public Schools are partnering to offer an Early Head Start class for children of teen parents attending Tahlequah High School. The class is set to begin this spring at THS.

The class will care for nearly 50 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 3 years. THS will provide the on-campus facility, while the tribe will provide staff and other necessities.

The facility will be located in the same building as the Tahlequah Central Academy, an alternative education program where many teen parents attend classes.

“Tahlequah Public Schools is excited to be partnering with the Cherokee Nation Head Start to expand their program to serve our students who are teen parents,” said TPS Assistant Superintendent Billie Jordan. “We have recognized the need for this program for years and have searched for ways to provide this service so that teen parents can attend school and at the same time learn hands-on parenting skills while their babies receive quality child care.”

Laura Baltazar, 19, said she’s excited the class is nearly open because it would give her peace of mind knowing her children, 3-year-old Elder and 7-month-old Eyzel, would be cared for.

“It’ll be easier because they’ll just be right there,” she said.

Bethany McDonald, who is with the Oklahoma Parents As Teachers at Central Academy, said the class would also allow parents to ease their minds about paying for daycare.

Baltazar said she pays $400 a month for daycare, but with the class she can start saving that money.

“This will help save a lot of money,” she said. “A lot of young moms, we want to come to school but we have our babies.”

McDonald, who works daily with the teen parents on parenting skills, said she sees the class as removing an obstacle to their learning.

“I see a great way for our (OPAT) program to partner with the Head Start,” she said. “I see it merging so well. We’re going to be able to have better access to our teen moms. They’re going to be right here.”

Some teen moms said the class would also help them be able to concentrate more on school if they know their babies are in good hands. Maria Ortega, 15, said she’ll be able to focus better once the Head Start opens because her 10-month-old son Miguel will down the hall.

“It’s going to be easier,” she said. “He’ll be closer to me.”

Principal Chief Chad Smith said the CN created the program to be a good partner in the community, to keep teenage parents in school to finish their educations and get the fathers of the children involved in the children’s lives.

“Through establishing this partnership with the school, we can help provide a way for the students to continue their education, which in turn will help the community,” he said.

Tribal and school officials agreed that students have a better chance of attending college or another form of post-secondary education upon graduation from high school.

Doing so will help the students better provide for their family later, Jordan said.

“There is so much research showing what an effective program it is anyway and how well those babies do in school,” she said. “If we want to talk about really overcoming poverty, Head Start is a great way.”


11/24/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Northeastern State University students made their mark on the university’s history recently when they voted to name the new student housing building after Isabel “Belle” Cobb. Cobb, a Cherokee National Seminary alumna, is the second woman to have a building named after her on the Tahlequah campus. Students had the opportunity to choose among four names: Francis Baker, John Hackler, Gideon Morgan and Cobb. This shortlist was researched and compiled with the assistance of NSU Archives and conversations with individuals who had extensive knowledge about the history of the National Female Seminary and Northeastern. A total of 266 votes were cast, with Cobb receiving 43 percent of the vote. Morgan received 26 percent, Hacker 16 percent and Baker 14 percent. Cobb was born in 1858 near Morgantown, Tennessee, and her family moved to land near what would later become Wagoner in the spring of 1870. In 1879, she graduated from the Cherokee National Female Seminary, located in Park Hill. After continuing her education in Ohio, she returned to the Female Seminary as a teacher in 1882 and witnessed the accidental burning of the building on Easter 1887. After the Seminary was destroyed, Cobb enrolled at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. She interned at a children’s hospital in Staten Island, New York, then moved back to her parent’s farm near Wagoner in 1893 to begin her medical practice. She often performed surgeries at her patients’ homes because there were no hospitals in the vicinity. Her medical practice continued until she died in 1947. Cobb is recognized as the first woman physician in Indian Territory. The Regional University System of Oklahoma board of regents formally approved the selected name in November. The Isabel Cobb building is set to be completed and open to students by fall 2016.
11/20/2015 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The U.S. Education and Interior departments recently awarded more than $900,000 in grants between Grand View School and the American Indian Resource Center to help Native youths become college and career ready. Grand View School was awarded approximately $341,000 for the first year of funding with the possibility of being funded up to four years, depending on congressional approval. “One of the things we want to do is provide mentoring and shadowing opportunities so they can see other successful people from this area,” Margaret Carlile, Grand View School federal grants director, said. Superintendent Ed Kennedy said the grant would get Native American youths in schools or in other organizations better prepared for college or career fields as they move through the process. “We worked with our grant writer and we took the approach that we were going to try to work and get parents educated early on about the opportunities for their kids, and get them talking to their kids at an early age for this,” he said. “We want them successful wherever they go so that they can take that next step once they leave high school.” Pamela Iron, AIRC public relations liaison, said the AIRC’s grant of $584,000 for the next four years would benefit Cherokee County students in grades 5-8. “AIRC is partnering with the Cherokee Nation Foundation, the Cherokee Immersion (Charter) School and the Cherokee Nation educational department to provide a holistic approach for career and college readiness that includes financial literacy, ACT prep, after-school tutoring, career readiness and leadership development,” Iron said. “Approximately 1,700 youth, in 12 rural schools, will benefit from the Four Directions Grant. Project Venture, an evidenced-based experiential adventure curriculum aimed at developing personal skills such as internal locus of control, decision make/problem solving and judgment, will be used for the leadership development component.” Iron also said a new computer lab at the Cherokee Immersion Charter School would be part of the after-school tutoring program. Other activities include college campus tours and science, technology, engineering and math-related activities in the 12 targeted schools and summer camps, she said. The awards were a part of a $5.3 million grant funding for the new Native Youth Community Projects program. According to a release, the Department of Education is making grants to a dozen recipients in nine states that would impact more than 30 tribes and involve more than 48 schools. “These grants are an unprecedented investment in Native youth, and a recognition that tribal communities are best positioned to drive solutions and lead change,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These grants are a down payment on President Obama’s commitment last summer at his historic trip to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to create new opportunities for American Indian youth to cultivate the next generation of Native leaders.” U.S. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell said the grant funding is part of the Obama administration’s commitment to self-determination. “By putting tribal communities in the driver’s seat for developing a strong and prosperous future for Indian Country,” Jewell said. “These grants provide tools to tribes to not only assist in the transition from federal to tribal control of school operations and management but also ensure college-readiness for the next generation of Native American leaders.” For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
11/04/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The seventh annual Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance will host its Regional Summit on Nov. 10 at the University Center at Northeastern State University. Registration begins at 8 a.m. with the first speaker beginning at 9 a.m., according to a Cherokee Nation Businesses release. “The summit covers a variety of issues for business, education, civic and community leaders. This year’s theme is Secrets to Successful Communities,” the release states. “Guest speakers from throughout the state and local region are set to discuss topics ranging from tourism, education, government contracting, and small business support to community and municipal financing, as well as reaching and engaging an audience.” Keynote speaker is Ed McMahon, a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute and Brian Cole, a nationally renowned expert in community and economic development will discuss his book “Building Communities: 25 Strategies to Advance America.” Registration is $75 for the full-day conference, including breakfast and lunch. All tickets can be purchased online or by emailing <a href="mailto:"></a>. For more information about this year’s summit or to register, visit the NORA website at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. To view the full agenda at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
11/04/2015 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation Foundation is accepting scholarship applications for the 2016-17 academic year. The foundation offers three differently funded scholarships: private, tribal and institutionally based. There are two institutions with Cherokee endowments: the University of Tulsa and Oklahoma State University. All applications are evaluated based on academic performance as well as community and cultural involvement. To apply, students create an online profile and then can have instant access to all CNF scholarships. The system also provides students with notifications about upcoming scholarship opportunities and deadlines. The deadline to apply is Jan. 31. CNF awarded more than $134,000 in scholarships to more than 60 Cherokee students last year. Applications can be found at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. For more information, call 918-207-0950 or email Janice Randall at <a href="mailto:"></a>.
10/30/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Symposium on the American Indian at Northeastern State University returns April 11-16 and the Center for Tribal Studies is already preparing events, inviting guest speakers and organizing educational panels. Now in its 44th year, the symposium features lectures, films, presentations and cultural activities. The 2016 theme “Indigenous Movement: Empowering Generations for Progressive Revitalization” was selected to focus on regenerating and maintaining traditions in the face of change. Beginning with relocation and assimilation practices of the 1800s, the culture and lifestyle of Native people has been impacted significantly by the historical and modern day transgressions of the U.S. government, said Alisa Douglas, coordinator for student programs at the center. “Recently, tribal and community leaders have demonstrated self-determination by taking action against racial discrimination and other social injustice issues such as violence against women, environmental policy, poverty and drug abuse,” she said. “While preserving cultural traditions, grassroots efforts and community advocates have established an Indigenous movement to raise awareness, create change, maintain sovereignty, and revitalize tribal communities through progressive action and economic progress. Through various forms of art and scholarly activity, a new generation of leaders has emerged, creating and sustaining positive change within our tribal communities.” Confirmed guest speakers for the 2016 event include Tanaya Winder, Chase Iron Eyes J.D., Dallas Goldtooth and Suzan Shown-Harjo. Shown-Harjo (Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee) is a poet, writer, lecturer, curator and policy advocate, who has helped Native Peoples protect sacred places and recover more than one million acres of land. She has developed key laws to promote and protect Native nations, sovereignty, children, arts, cultures, languages, religious freedom and repatriation. President of the Morning Star Institute and an award-winning Columnist for “Indian Country Today Media Network,” she is guest curator and editor for the National Museum of the American Indian’s 2014-18 exhibit and book “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations.” President Barack Obama presented Harjo with a 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom in a White House ceremony honoring 18 recipients – the Medal is the United States’ highest civilian honor. She was honored with the 2015 Native Leadership Award by the National Congress of American Indians, which she served as Executive Director during the 1980s. Next year’s symposium also brings a change to the format. There will be traditional singing in place of the usual powwow. “The singing will be free and open to the public. Anyone who wants to share or sing traditional songs (in any format) in their Native language is more than welcome to,” Douglas explained. Non-singers from the community are invited to attend and enjoy this event also. For more information about the symposium and to view a tentative schedule, visit
10/29/2015 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After temporarily being relocated to the old Jack Brown Center for approximately six weeks, Sequoyah High School students recently moved back into school dormitories after the dorms underwent renovations. Renovations started on the boys and girls dormitories during the summer and school started on Aug. 12. “Before this (renovations) we had a really bad roof and it leaked a lot, so now they’ve repaired the roof and now we won’t have to have buckets everywhere when it rains, and right now they’re repairing our bathroom,” SHS senior Karita Red Eagle, a Winnebago Ho-Chunk citizen, said. With Bureau of Indian Education funding, each dorm building received a new roof as well as fresh paint, any repairs that were needed and new furnishings including washing machines and showers. “It’s an ongoing process,” said Carol Young, SHS dorm administrator. “They’re both very large dorms and what we’ve been doing now is moving what furniture that was over there (Jack Brown) and getting them set up, just like normal.” Cherokee Nation Businesses provided some furnishings such as chairs and end tables, mattresses and dressers in the honors dorms. The dorms will also have Native American décor and paintings. “The dorms are very old and the main thing was the roof,” Young said. “That was the main thing that was renovated. They had been scheduled to be finished and replaced in the summertime and it fell a little behind schedule and that is why we ended up moving temporarily to Jack Brown Treatment Center.” The old Jack Brown Center dorms are located next to the SHS dorms. In an Aug. 10 Cherokee Phoenix article, SHS Superintendent Leroy Qualls said the Jack Brown Center dorms would be sectioned off and have adult resident advisors in each boys wing and girls wing. “It was an experience. I think it was a positive experience for the kids having lived with them over there in the Jack Brown Treatment Center,” Young said. “It put the kids much closer together. They hadn’t had that before but they did bond with their peers much better from being over there.” Red Eagle also said that living in the Jack Brown dorms was an interesting experience. “There was about six, eight to a room, it was crowded and some of us would get on each others nerves, but it was a good experience because I’m talking to people I didn’t talk to before because of it because we’ve gotten close,” she said. While staying in the dorms, students participate in after school programs, tutoring, recreational programs and attend SHS sports events, movies and field trips. The dorms also recently received updates to their fire alarm systems and stairways. According to a 2012 Phoenix article, SHS received a $7.7 million BIE grant in 2006 that allowed the school to complete maintenance updates on campus such as fire alarm system improvements in the girls’ dormitory and the replacement of handrails in the stairwells of both dorms. “Both of them (dorms) are very large with a lot of room and when we moved the students out we had some happy kids to be back over here,” Young said. “We all live with these kids all year, so they become our kids and we get to know them very well and we’re just very close.”